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Rise of Non-QB Skill Player Football Cards

Jim Brown may be the ultimate skill player (get Jim Brown cards on eBay).

When everyone is chasing Trevor Lawrence cards, the best play might be Non-QB Skill Player Football Cards. After all, there is less money to be made by following the herd.

We have already talked about investing in defensive players. Today we will take a look at another option.

What Is A Non-QB Skill Player Football Cards?

“QBs only.” For many years before the sports card explosion of 2020, this was a common phrase you’d see online among collectors looking to add new cards.

Quarterbacks, for one reason or another, were by far the most sought-after card. But now that’s changed. With star skill players like Davante Adams, Christian McCaffrey, and even tight ends like Travis Kelce demanding big bucks for nice rookies, the skill player market has exploded over the last two years.

For example, I sold a silver Prizm Davante Adams PSA 9 rookie for less than $15 in 2019. The most recent of these sold for $120—that’s a massive leap for skill players.

Let’s look at why this happened and what it means for you.

Usually, a skill player is a player that scores touchdowns. But, of course, a quarterback is a skill player too, but for the sake of this article, we’ll talk about skill players and quarterbacks like they are different.

Jim Brown may be the ultimate skill player (get Jim Brown cards on eBay).

The Role Of Fantasy Football

While this can’t be directly proven, Fantasy Football could largely have fueled the rise of the skill player.

When a vast influx of new collectors poured into the market in 2020, there weren’t enough quarterback cards to go around for the new demand. So who did people start buying?

Fantasy football stars!

The players who make the headlines that matter to many sports fans are putting up big numbers in fantasy football. The way fantasy has gamified sports gives another fun element to collecting cards because fans feel more personally invested.

In fantasy, the most sought-after players aren’t quarterbacks, but rather elite running backs, receivers, and tight ends. Of course, this flips the script on card collecting, but given the power and appeal of fantasy football, it helped even out the card landscape.

Why Do People Invest In Quarterbacks

Investing in a quarterback is still probably the best long-term play for several reasons. Here are a few:

  • Quarterbacks have a longer shelf life. An excellent modern receiver or running back has an exceptional career if they play for a decade. Tom Brady has been dominating since the AFL-NFL merger (okay, not quite). Quarterbacks take fewer hits and can do what they do at a high level for a lot longer. Many fantasy projection sites have four quarterbacks in the top 10 playing for over ten years already (Brady, Rodgers, Stafford, Tannehill, and Russell Wilson are right on the cusp).
  • Quarterbacks are iconic. Nobody directly influences winning or losing as much as a quarterback. They also have the highest media profile.
  • Quarterback cards are historically worth the most. But, again, the numbers speak for themselves.
The longevity of Tom Brady is a reminder of why people invest in QB’s (get Brady autos on eBay).

Why Do People Invest In Non-QB Skill Player Football Cards?

Here are a few reasons to consider investing in skill players.

  • They’re exciting. The wow factor of these dynamic athletes can build up a lot of excitement for collectors. Remember when OBJ made a crazy catch and his card market shot to the stratosphere?
  • Fantasy coverage. Skill players make many fantasy headlines and are more important to fantasy than the quarterbacks themselves (since quarterbacks are more dispensable, at least in theory).
  • Better prices. While the skill player market is up, a good McCaffrey rookie will still cost much less than Mahomes, a 2017 draft class peer.

Top Skill Player Long Term Holds

Suppose you’re looking for skills players that could be good long-term holds. In that case, there are two solid approaches: find a player with a legendary career who is on his way out of the league or find a young player who is either underpriced or has potential for potential a HOF kind of career.

Here are a few to consider:

Adrian Peterson

“All Day” has been a key NFL performer since 2007. In running back years, that’s incredible. So while he might be officially retiring, it wouldn’t surprise anybody to see Peterson back for one last rodeo this year. Either way, history will smile back on Peterson for years to come.

Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey is one of the most electrifying running backs ever to play the game, and he could have his name written in all sorts of record books by the time his career is up. But, of course, he’s only been in the league since 2017, so he could have some bright years ahead of him, but the one cause of concern is that he missed nearly all of last season.

Christian McCaffrey is one of the most explosive players in the NFL, with several years ahead of him (get McCaffrey rookie cards on eBay).

Travis Kelce/Tyreek Hill

I combined Kelce and Hill because they’re great investments for many of the same reasons: they’re elite at their position and play for the Chiefs, so it would surprise nobody if they nabbed four or five Super Bowls each.

Davante Adams

Adams has been around since 2014 and has already cemented a legendary career. Anything else is just extra gravy at this point, and he still has a lot of great football left in the tank.

Rob Gronkowski

Gronk will probably be remembered as the GOAT tight end when all is said and done, and he’s been around long enough to have Topps Chrome rookies, which looked great in 2010.

DK Metcalf

Metcalf is cool. He’s a cool guy that many younger fans will connect to, and he’s only been in the league for two seasons, so his potential is sky-high.

CardPSA 10 PricePopulation
2007 Adrian Peterson Topps Chrome RC$375274
2017 Christian McCaffrey Prizm RC$342916
2013 Travis Kelce Topps Chrome RC$240153
2016 Tyreek Hill Prizm RC$263240
2014 Davante Adams Prizm RC$40052
2010 Topps Chrome Rob Gronkowski RC$587159
2019 DK Metcalf Prizm RC$202723

BONUS: 3 Non-QB Skill Player Football Cards Who Could Have a Breakout Year

One trend to consider is investing in players that you believe are under-the-radar fantasy football stars. If you can buy cheap rookies of players that will be breakout candidates or waiver-wire prizes, you’ll be able to make significant returns on small investments.

Trey Sermon (Rookie)

I like Sermon a lot. Also, the 49ers have the easiest schedule in football, so they’ll possibly have some nice leads and, as a result, will be running the ball a lot this year. Finally, Sermon’s the big-body kind of player, and that will help him sustain success.

The concern? It’s a crowded backfield, with Raheem Mostert likely to get many touches and have some big games of his own.

Trey Sermon seems set to make an impact (get Sermon autos on eBay).

Antonio Gibson

Gibson has a breakout season as a rookie and could look even better this year if he gets to play more on third down and is better involved in the passing game. Several beat reporters suggest this could very well be the case. In addition, playing for Rob Rivera and Scott Tuner (OC) might help Gibson’s case since they both coached McCaffrey in Carolina.

Keenan Allen

Many expect Justin Herbert to have a second-year jump that propels him to a Top 5 quarterback. If that happens, Allen will presumably be the beneficiary. Allen is one of the most consistent receivers in all the NFL. The downside? He plays for the Chargers.

Bottomline On Non-QB Skill Player Football Cards

Skill player cards are still unappreciated in comparison to their quarterback counterparts. However, the gap between the two is narrowing. Therefore, there is a good chance that top skill players represent a better return on investment than some star quarterbacks. Either way, they represent a refreshing new approach to collecting football cards.

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.
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